Book review – Floreana by Margret Wittmer

Turtle tracks on the beach at Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island

The following is a guest post by Matt Burns, a native of Ojai, California who has spent several months in Ecuador and recently made his first trip to the Galapagos. Aboard a cruise with Ecoventura he became fascinated with the animals, and particularly the history of the islands. This is his take on one of the most fascinating historical books, the autobiographical account of Margaret Wittmer and her life on Floreana island (one of the places Matt visited on his trip).

Turtle tracks on the beach at Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island

Turtle tracks on the beach at Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island

Reading aboard a Galapagos cruise

Everyday aboard a Galapagos cruise offers once in a lifetime sights.  Whether you are swimming with sea lions, seeing penguins in the wild, or photographing blue footed boobies, there are plenty of amazing activities to make the Galapagos experience an incredible one.  Although it also leaves you a bit tired and ready to relax when you return to the boat.  So I chose to use the free time to read a book, while most other passengers napped or sunbathed.

What to read…

The boat’s common area had several Galapagos themed books to choose from…

Maybe I want to read Darwin’s Origins of Species?

Well, it is easily the most important book on the subject of modern biology and famous for being inspired by the Galapagos Islands.  But no way, it’s much too intellectual for vacation reading.

A Naturalists Guide to the Galapagos?

Again no thanks, since our naturalist guide, Adrian, seems to have this book practically memorized.  So I can let him teach us about Galapagos wildlife on our nature walks.

Darwin and the General Reader: The Reception of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in the British Periodical Press

The subject is an interesting one, but it is seriously written as dry as a 300 page PHD thesis.

Photography Books?

They have beautiful pictures, but the text just isn’t engaging enough.  I’m looking to read more than one sentence captions.

Floreana: A Woman’s Pilgrimage to the Galapagos

It is an autobiographical account of Margaret Wittmer, who left Europe in the 1930s to start a new life on an uninhabited Galapagos Island.  Sounds like a real life Robinson Crusoe, so I gave it a look.  And I practically couldn’t put it down.  Each chapter almost feels like fiction, as she led quite an exciting life on the island.  She temporarily shared it with a few eccentric personalities: including a vegetarian dentist who had all his teeth removed and believed his simple island lifestyle would allow him to live until 140, and a self-proclaimed “baroness” who brought three male companions and more drama then a day-time soap opera.  But she outlasted them.  Then an Ecuadorian governor evicted them from the island, but she refused to go.  Then the US Navy used the islands as a WW2 Pacific War military base.  But she still remained on the island all her life and today her children and grandchildren continue the legacy.  It’s a good read, and especially fun to read if you have plans to visit Floreana.floreana

Editors note: You can find the book on Amazon

None found.
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *